The European Parliament seemed abruptly awoken yesterday to an ugly reality, by recognising the rise of right-wing extremism in Europe, while discussing the murder of Pavlos Fissas, the Greek social activist slaughtered by the gangs of Golden Dawn. Of course the EU Parliament is not the only western top decision making body to suddenly discover, that in many ways our western democracies are hostages to right wing extremism. The American Good Old Party of Republicans appears currently to have fallen in the hands of a small group of extreme right-wing deputies, who are closely related and actually elected with the support of tea-parties, the circles which regroup the most backward and antisocial elements of the American society. Now these few Republican deputies have dragged the GOP to such a point of political absurdity, as to threaten the US and the world with a total financial collapse.
Coming back to Europe, EU legislators saw this murder as the latest symptom of a growing movement which does not spare any EU country. Many said the the EU needs to pay more heed to citizens’ concerns, as the prolonged crisis has left them more willing to turn to extreme views. Unfortunately for them this tendency is at least three years old and the symptoms of social malaise are massively taking now the form of support of political extremism.
Support for extremism; why?
With communism utterly discredited and the European left wing parties having been included in the established political elites, the only extremism left in the political spectrum is, then, the extreme right of the right. As a result, some newly appearing or fast emerging from the margins, political hodgepodges, have attracted the amorphous and muffled reaction of a growing part of the population. This is a fast growing number of people, mainly young ones or middle aged and of low qualification and unemployed, who are deprived of any prospect of regular employment, guaranteeing integration to mainstream society.
In view of all that, MEPs on all sides of the Parliament “acknowledged that people’s anxiety, disillusionment, and economic instability had provided an ideal breeding ground for the far right”. Having observed the ugly present economic reality they proposed that “This needs to be addressed by using the rule of law to curtail these movements but also by making sure that governments and the EU institutions do more to take citizens’ concerns on board and adapt their policies accordingly”.
Where do all those extremists come from?
Of course these recommendations go only half way and may even return as a boomerang. Countering social anxiety with police forces is not only dangerous but it leads invariably to the glorification of those who fight the faceless and insensitive authorities. In Greece the poll showing of Golden Dawn, after its leadership was put behind bars, isn’t much affected. In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Front, a rather watered down version of extremism, is gaining momentum and presently comes first in polls, ahead of the centre-right and Holande’s socialists.
In Austria, Finland and the Netherlands the extreme right political formations are now mainstream political parties. Clownish Nigel Farage’s UKIP, an anti-European and quite irrelevant until recently extreme right British political party, prepares for a strong showing in the next European elections. Germany is not speared from extremism. The Alternative for Germany AfD newly formed anti-EU and anti-euro inward looking party managed to gather 4.7% of the votes in the last elections. Not having crossed the 5% threshold to enter the Bundestag, it is now thought to have surpassed this benchmark.
Despite these deafening developments, European MEPs all they had to say was that the Commission should “investigate the activities of neo-Nazi organisations across the EU and set up a database and observatory on hate crime”. Again it’s the dangerous idea that this is a policing matter and not a political economy huge issue. As Bill Clinton had said before gaining his second term as US President, “it’s the economy, stupid”.
Police solution to social problems
As long as almost half of Europe’s youth have no prospects whatsoever for a regular and secure employment, right-wing extremism will continue flourishing. Mainstream political parties and the totality of the European political and economic elites are equally responsible for the present deplorable politico-economic situation in the Old Continent.
It’s more than certain that all the above arguments have been analysed, discussed upon and weighted behind closed doors in every corridor of power in Brussels and all the major European capitals. However, it seems that there is a widespread ‘ideology’ in our western politico-economic elites, that political extremism and along with it, social discomfort aka unrest, can be countered by increasing the police forces and spending more money on security systems, monitoring every group of citizens or individual.
Everybody knows that in many EU countries NSA practices were in absolute cooperation with national security forces. The problem though, when police methods are used to solve political issues, is that this strategy usually exacerbates the problem. We have seen this all over the planet wherever the West tried to install its own governments, without the slightest concern about people’s needs.
Local societies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and elsewhere have completely disintegrated after the West tried to govern the places with military and security forces. Of course it’s highly probable that complete dissolution was the target of those interventions in the first place. In Europe and the US however the scenery is quite different. Our western societies have very deep rooted traditions and functioning democratic buffers.
However, if the banks continue extracting a growing part of the wealth produced and accumulated in our welfare countries and keep on ‘guiding’ our political systems with invisible strings, soon a growing part of our tidy countries will start looking like Iraq and Afghanistan. This is already true in the US, where the old peaceful climate in hard labouring towns and large cities’ neighbourhoods gave way to lawlessness and terror. Exactly the same is true for large parts of many European cities.
All in all, in both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean, socio-economic developments are parallel. If the current trends continue for a number of years, the extreme right formulations will strengthen and will surely cooperate with those who pull the strings. After all, right wing extremists might prove cheaper than mainstream politicians.